Monday, August 1, 2016

Thoughts About My Residency Work





I've been very focused in my painting at the Baer Art Center Artist Residency here in Iceland these past 3 weeks. I had an idea before I came, that I wanted to paint mostly with black and white while I was here and even started some small pieces at home, anticipating the experience.

Amazingly, I started right off at that same place once I arrived, painting large black shapes. I'd seen photos on the Baer Art Center website of the magnificent Cape that rises from the ocean right outside our window. It's connected to the shore by two long, narrow spits of rocky beach, creating a lake within it's boundaries. The strong dark shape of it has stuck in my mind.


Gradually, I've settled more into the experience of being here. I began to use the black sand from the nearby beach in my work, mixing it in with black acrylic paint and applying it with scrapers.


Acrylic/pigment sticks/black sand on paper 12x12" © 2016 Janice Mason Steeves

In my work, I'm trying to emulate the strength and rawness of the land. The power of the open spaces. And yet, as time has gone on, I see the softness here too, the way the fog quietly descends over the mountains, moving ever so softly across the land, completely enclosing us.

And the next day, the sun is shining here and there through the clouds, lighting up sections of the land a bright yellow green and the wind is howling, beating against the building where we're staying. There are whitecaps on the lake and the ocean, and the grasses in the field out front are bending almost flat with the power of it. Such drama.

It's a land of huge contrasts--the stark black islands in the setting sun alongside the organic shapes of the pooled water on the black sand beach, the curved beaches alongside the powerful basaltic columns rising from the water.




My work has become more and more minimal during the past three weeks, using sparse, simple strokes to depict this great ocean of landscape.

Acrylic/pigment sticks/black sand on paper 12x12"  © 2016 Janice Mason Steeves
Acrylic/pigment stick/black sand on paper  12x12"  © 2016 Janice Mason Steeves

Acrylic/pigment sticks, black sand on paper 12x12"  © 2016 Janice Mason Steeves